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Owl presence may halt Oregon timber sale

 Posted by on October 20, 2010
Oct 202010

From Green Right Now Reports

Northern spotted owl. Photo: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The discovery of a pair of federally-protected northern spotted owls in the Willamette National Forest may derail plans to harvest 157 acres of mature and old-growth forest above the McKenzie River.

A legal challenge by two conservation organizations – Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild – is based on new research showing that the owls have taken up residence in the neighborhood of the planned timber sale. The groups claim that the U.S. Forest Service has ignored new information about the owls that has surfaced since the agency agreed to log the area in 2003.

The groups also argue that logging efforts would have a negative impact on the McKenzie, the sole source of municipal drinking water for Eugene and its population of about 155,000.

Conservationists point to new research showing that the northern spotted owl is dwindling in numbers both range-wide and in a large study area that encompasses the logging project. They claim that the Forest Service plan fails to protect dozens of red tree vole nests located in the area. (The red tree vole is a small mammal that lives in older conifer forests and serves as a major food source for the owls.).

Twice previously, Cascadia Wildlands and Oregon Wild have successfully challenged the species impacts opinion issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the timber sale.

“It is past time the Forest Service retire this reckless project for good,” says Doug Heiken, conservation and restoration coordinator with Oregon Wild. “The agency has a choice between logging mature and old-growth forests on public lands above our treasured McKenzie River or identifying common sense projects that benefit wildlife, protect the forest, and create jobs. It should be an easy choice.”